QAU sexual harassment cases: Fresh notices issued to two accused
ISLAMABAD: The Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) syndicate put the cases of sexual harassment back to square one when it met on Friday to implement the findings of an inquiry, and instead issued fresh show cause notices to the two accused.
A statement issued after the meeting said, “In Friday`s meeting at the Quaid-i-Azam University, it was resolved that the syndicate was now designated as the competent authority under the clause 2(d) of the Protection Against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 to implement the decision of inquiry committee.
“However, it was also decided to issue the show cause notices to the accused and they were required to submit their replies to the competent authority within seven days.”
A four-member committee has already shared with the syndicate its findings into sexual harassment cases against two QAU faculty members.
The syndicate`s decision of issuing fresh notices caught the chair of the meeting, QAU Vice Chancellor Prof Masoom Yasinzai, by surprise. “Some thought it best to give a chance to the two accused to give written replies to the proposed penalties against them within seven days, instead of knocking the doors of courts later,” the VC said. He added that the accused could appeal against the syndicate`s decision in the court.
But the seven extra days for the two accused was a disappointing news for the victims. “The inquiry committee questioned everybody for hours. It is disappointing because we were expecting terminations,” said one of them. “It makes no sense as the committee has all the evidence it needed for giving its final recommendations,” she added.
According to sources in QAU, in the nearly three hours meeting, the syndicate members discussed “loopholes” in implementing the anti-harassment act.
“Although the act provides for severe punishments to the guilty, at the same time government service rules of the organisation instruct to follow a certain pattern before any action against the accused party,” said a source.
Like the victims, some members of the syndicate did question why the extra seven days? One of them asked: “Does the anti-harassment act not direct that the competent authority (the QAU syndicate in this case) implement findings and recommendations of the inquiry committee?”